Why Every Solo Traveler Should Visit Prague
Traveling solo might seem daunting to some, but there's something undeniably enchanting about meandering through the cobbled streets of a foreign city, fueled only by your curiosity. And if there’s one city in Europe that truly rewards the solo traveler, it’s Prague.
Safest City for Solo Travelers - Prague
Prague, the heart of the Czech Republic, clinched the runner-up spot on the global list of prime destinations for solo travelers, as revealed by a recent study from travel giant Planet Cruise. This research meticulously evaluated ideal locations for lone wanderers, focusing on six pivotal criteria: safety standards, average nightly hotel rates, access to group events, tourist attractions, price of a public ticket, overall city's hospitality.
In the mentioned Planet Cruise analysis, Prague garnered a commendable 4.6 out of 5, trailing only Tokyo, the reigning champion. Notably, the city shone in the safety domain, recording an impressive 75.39 safety index on Numbeo, surpassing numerous European counterparts. Earlier in the year, Prague had already been distinguished as Europe's safest city for tourists.
In 2021, Prague was spotlighted as the best choice for solo female globetrotters. TimeOut also lauded the city, ranking it as the world's seventh paramount urban destination. Furthermore, for family vacationers, Prague stood out, bagging the title of Europe's most kid-friendly vacation hub the previous year.
Here's the list of the world’s top solo travel destinations:
- Tokyo (Japan)
- Prague (Czechia)
- Beijing (China)
- Hanoi (Vietnam)
- Shanghai (China)
- Chiang Mai (Thailand)
- Budapest (Hungary)
- Vienna (Austria)
- Rome (Italy)
- Bucharest (Romania)
Gorgeous Old Town & Its Attractions
Prague, often referred to as the 'City of a Hundred Spires', effortlessly marries its rich history with the vibrancy of the modern world. The moment you set foot on its cobbled streets, you're transported back in time, with architectural masterpieces dotting every corner.
The iconic Prague Castle, for instance, is not only a UNESCO World Heritage site but also the largest ancient castle in the world, offering visitors a detailed glimpse into the city's regal past. If you want to visit this famous attraction, reserve several hours for the visit and definitely book a guided tour because otherwise you can miss the chance of knowing all the spicy historical stories.
Then there's the Charles Bridge, the most iconic place in Prague. Lined with 30 statues, each narrating a unique story, this iconic bridge is a living gallery of Baroque sculpture. Not only does it bridge the physical banks of the Vltava river, but it also bridges time, connecting Prague's ancient glory to its vibrant present. As you stroll along its cobbled path, the city unfolds before you, with the views especially enchanting during the soft glow of sunrise or the fiery drama of sunset.
The Old Town Square, the beating heart of Prague, is another must-visit. As you walk, you'll be met with the astronomical clock,known as the Orloj. It is a medieval marvel that has been captivating visitors for over 600 years. Its intricate timepiece not only displays the time but also showcases the positions of the sun and moon, lunar phases, and even features a parade of the Twelve Apostles every hour. The Apostles on the astronomical clock plays from 9:00 am to 11:00 pm. Around the square, Gothic and Baroque buildings stand tall.
Don't forget to venture into the Jewish Quarter, where centuries-old synagogues and the hauntingly beautiful Old Jewish Cemetery narrate tales of a bygone era. Within this historic neighborhood, you'll also find the Jewish Museum, which houses one of the most extensive collections of Judaic artifacts in the world. The narrow cobblestone streets here echo with stories of renowned figures like Franz Kafka. As you stroll through, the atmosphere of the quarter, coupled with its rich history, offers a profound and introspective experience for travelers.
Alphonse Mucha, the celebrated Art Nouveau artist, is intrinsically linked to Prague, the city where he achieved much of his fame. His captivating murals in the Lord Mayor's Hall at the Municipal House. This Art Nouveau gem in the city center boasts a series of Mucha's exquisite works that celebrate the Slavic history and mythology. His distinctive style, blending rich colors and intricate patterns, makes the Lord Mayor's Hall a testament to his genius and a must-visit locale for those seeking to understand the depth of Mucha's connection to the Czech capital. Coupled with the stained-glass window at St. Vitus Cathedral and the comprehensive collection at the Mucha Museum, these murals further establish Prague as the epicenter of Mucha's illustrious career.
P.S. I loved Prague for its museums: Lego Museum, Kafka Museum, Museum of Communism, KGB Museum, National Technical Museum, Muscha Museum, Sex Maschines Museum and more...
Traveling solo often means managing a budget single-handedly. Thankfully, Prague, despite its popularity, remains one of the more affordable European capitals. From hostels to traditional cafes, there are options aplenty for travelers keeping an eye on their wallets. Public transport, including trams, buses, and the metro, is reasonably priced and efficiently connects all corners of the city, negating the need for expensive taxis. The city also boasts numerous free or low-cost attractions, such as strolling along the Vltava River or wandering the streets of the historic Old Town. Additionally, local markets like Havelská Market offer a chance to shop for souvenirs and local produce without breaking the bank. This balance between affordability and rich experiences ensures that solo travelers can make the most of their journey without financial strain.
Prague is a culinary treasure trove, inviting solo travelers to embark on a flavorsome journey through traditional Czech cuisine. Let’s start with the main dishes.
Goulash, a hearty meat stew seasoned with rich spices and typically served with dumplings, is a comforting dish that has warmed Czech bellies for generations. It’s similar to Hungarian goulash version but this one is more spicy.
Another staple, svíčková (picture above) is a marinated beef dish served in a creamy sauce and often paired with cranberry compote and a slice of lemon. It is usually paired with toasted bread, not potatoes or dumplings. The first time I tried it was at Café Louvre, and I really enjoyed it. BTW, this iconic café boasts a rich history, having been the chosen haunt for illustrious minds such as Karel Capek, Franz Kafka, and Albert Einstein over the past hundred years. So I really recommend going there instead of sitting somewhere else. Delish food - refreshing local drinks & beer, perfect service, and reasonable prices. Moreover, not many tourists know this place. :)
For those with a sweet tooth, trdelník is an unmissable treat. This sugary pastry, roasted over an open flame and often filled with ice cream or chocolate, is a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
And no visit to Prague would be complete without sipping on the world-famous Pilsner. This golden lager, with its crisp taste and frothy head, is best enjoyed in one of the city's historic pubs or beer gardens.
Famous Christmas Markets in Prague
If you have a change, visit Prague in December. Prague's Christmas markets are a solo traveler's dream, famous around the world. The historic heart of the city, especially the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, becomes a luminescent winter wonderland, glowing with fairy lights and bustling stalls. Dive into authentic Czech experiences, sampling delicacies like trdelník and sipping svařák, the local mulled wine. Amidst this festive backdrop, the warmth of the Czech people shines, making it easy for solo travelers to strike up conversations and make unexpected friendships. Live performances, from traditional carols to folk dances, enrich the atmosphere. Prague's safety and compactness further enhance the experience, letting travelers explore with ease. In essence, Prague during Christmas offers a magical solo journey, intertwined with culture, warmth, and age-old traditions.
Dates: 2 December 2023 - 6 January 2024
Location: Old Town Square & Wenceslas Square
How Many Days You Should Spend in Prague
The recommended duration for a visit to Prague depends on the depth of exploration and experiences you're seeking. For many travelers 3-4 daysis the most common duration for first-time visitors. It allows enough time to explore the main sights such as Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, Old Town Square, and the Astronomical Clock, along with some museums, galleries, and leisurely strolls around various neighborhoods. This duration also provides a good balance to soak in the atmosphere, enjoy the local cuisine, and perhaps even take a river cruise.
If you're on a tight schedule or are just passing through, you can still experience the essence of Prague in a day or two, focusing on the major landmarks in the city center. However, it would be a packed itinerary and wouldn't allow for a deep dive into the city's charm. And you’ll definitely miss either Prague Castle, or other attractions.